Communications Officer II
Deputy Governor's Office
Government of the Virgin Islands
The Unity Government of the Virgin Islands has amended the Audit Act 2003 and the Service Commission Regulations which now makes the obstruction of audit functions a criminal offence.
The amendment made to the Audit Act, No.13 of 2003 is as set out in the Framework for Implementation of the Recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry Report and Other Reforms, with the intention to address Recommendation B16 of the Commission of Inquiry report which advises “that consideration be given to amending the Audit Act 2003 so as to make a failure on the part of any person to cooperate with or otherwise impede the Auditor General without legitimate excuse, a criminal offence.”
Deputy Governor, Mr. David Archer Jr. said that both Amendments signify the Government’s commitment to a more accountable Public Service.
“As we move swiftly to exact the strategy outlined in the Framework for Implementation, each step brings us closer to greater accountability in the Public Service that the public deserve. I am confident that these amendments carry significant weight and will allow an enhanced audit process for everyone as good governance continues to be a critical part of the public service transformation plan.”
The amendment came into effect on August 10. Section 21B has been inserted to the Act and stipulates that a person who, without lawful excuse, fails to cooperate with or otherwise impedes, hinders or resists the Auditor General in the discharge of duty or the exercise of a power conferred on him or her, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars.
Similarly, the Service Commissions Regulations have been amended to address recommendation B17, which speaks to the consequences for public officers who fail to cooperate with the Office of the Auditor General and the Director of Internal Audit. Failure by a public officer to cooperate with the Office of the Auditor General or Internal Audit Department will be considered an act of gross misconduct that carries a stiff penalty.
The amendment states that in the case of a first time misconduct, the Public Officer is subject to up to 30 days’ suspension as well as demotion. In the case of a second time and subsequent misconduct, the officer is subject to dismissal.
Recommendation B17 also applies to employees of statutory boards. All Statutory Boards were given instructions by the Acting Governor to amend their governing documents to ensure that this recommendation is addressed and are well underway with making the necessary amendments.
The Government of the Virgin Islands is fully committed to expeditiously implementing the report’s recommendations made by Rt. Hon. Sir Gary Hickinbottom as outlined in the Framework for Implementation.